With just one day to spare before a scheduled vote on the House floor, House GOP leaders are scrambling to secure the 216 votes needed to clear their proposed health care bill that would repeal and replace Obamacare. President Donald Trump’s administration and House Speaker Paul Ryan face a tough road ahead, however, as several Republicans said they are not on board with the new legislation.
This week, President Trump visited Capitol Hill to push the proposed health care bill, warning Republicans that if the legislation didn’t pass, the GOP could face severe backlash in 2018’s midterm elections. The president, during a private meeting with House Republicans Tuesday, March 21, also noted the possibility of GOP leaders losing seats, thus giving Democrats the majority and thwarting his plans to gut the Affordable Care Act once and for all, sources who attended the meeting said.
However, the president’s ominous warning didn’t seem to have much of an effect. According to The Hill, at least 22 House Republicans are expected to vote “no” to the GOP’s American Health Care Act, with six more leaning toward “no” or “likely no.” Reps. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), Walter Jones (R-N.C.) and House Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows of (R-N.C.) are among those who’ve come out in fierce opposition to the new bill, arguing that its provisions don’t do enough to repeal and replace Obamacare.
While several Republicans still haven’t said how they’ll vote, 22 defections from their camp is enough to defeat the contested health care bill. An estimated 24 million Americans would be stripped of their coverage under the American Health Care Act, as the bill proposes measures that would phase out Medicaid expansion and allow insurance providers to hike their premiums significantly.
In recent days, Trump has packed his schedule with back-to-back meetings with Republican legislators and is expected to continue behind-the-scenes lobbying on Wednesday, March 22, alongside Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of Health and Human Services Tom Price, CNN reported. Wednesday is the last chance for the president and his administration to woo key GOP leaders into jumping aboard the AHCA bandwagon.
“This is an all-hands-on deck situation,” a senior House GOP aide said.
House Republicans also are making a few changes to their proposed bill ahead of Thursday’s vote in an effort to appease concerns voiced by fellow conservatives and Democrats. Their amendments, which were unveiled Monday night, include giving states the option of making able-bodied Medicaid recipients work or participate in job training programs, banning more states from expanding Medicaid coverage and pushing the decision to provide additional tax credits for the elderly to purchase insurance to the Senate, among other things.
Despite the mounting push back from fellow Republicans, Speaker Ryan remains confident that the AHCA will pass the House.
“This is the one chance we have to actually repeal Obamacare and replace it with the stuff we believe in,” he said. “The president is all in, we all made this promise, and that’s why I’m confident. People will realize I’m not going to go home and face voters reneging on my word.”
Some suspect that Thursday’s crucial vote may be delayed if Republicans fail to secure the necessary votes in time, but this hasn’t been confirmed.